In 2020 the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) convened a Health Community of Practice (CoP), co-chaired by UNICEF Health, to complement and extend existing efforts to support the discovery, assessment and advancement of open source technologies with relevance to high-priority health areas. In order to effectively align and coordinate approaches, the CoP began defining and describing the relationship between digital public goods (DPGs) and global goods in the digital health context. This paper discusses the relationship between these two terms, setting the groundwork for effective coordination across the approaches of Digital Square, WHO and others. 

Globally, significant progress has been made to harness the momentum of digital innovation and translate it to the healthcare sector. We’ve seen this, for example, in the unprecedented global cooperation on vaccine development. While these advancements are considerable, more must be done to support countries in their transition to digital health beyond the pandemic. COVID-19 has underscored the need for innovative solutions that have the ability to not only help countries respond, but also to strengthen digital cooperation and promote equitable access to health solutions. 

In recognition of this need, in 2020 the Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) convened a Health Community of Practice (CoP) with UNICEF Health which focused on identifying DPGs for immunization delivery management. 

The DPGA Community of Practice Model

The DPGA convenes expert CoPs to support the discovery, assessment and advancement of digital public goods (DPGs) with high potential for addressing critical development needs in low- and middle-income countries. Currently, there are ongoing CoPs for climate change adaptation, health, and financial inclusion. Within these broad topics, each CoP narrows in on particular focus areas by considering relevance and potential impact of DPGs.

Aligning Initiatives for Digital Health

Several organisations within the development sector have been working to identify and support digital health technologies including WHO’s ClearingHouse and Digital Square’s Global Goods Guidebook. Though there are differences in criteria across these initiatives (discussed in the paper), in the health context, global goods can be considered mature digital public goods, and there are considerable opportunities for alignment that have the potential to accelerate the discovery and adoption of global goods.

In the coming weeks, the DPGA will be releasing a list of solutions identified by this CoP that meet all of the criteria to be recognized as both digital public goods and global goods of high relevance for immunization delivery management.

For more information, continue reading the full paper Understanding the Relationship between Digital Public Goods and Global Goods in the Context of Digital Health